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RETURN NORTH CAROLINA FARM UNJUSTLY SEIZED BACK TO BLACK FARMERWe are very concerned what appears to be a glaring and very violent assault on small farmers, Black farmers, and the right to self-determination in this country, via the recent seizure of North Carolina Farmer Eddie Wise’s land. On Wednesday, January 20, 2016, around 7:30 a.m., at least fourteen (14) Federal Marshals in full military gear with full-scale military guns drawn, along with several county sheriff officers, descended on the 106 acre farm in Nash County, NC, and forcibly escorted Eddie Wise and his wife, who was still in bed and suffers from a debilitating medical condition, out of their home and off the land that they have owned for more than 20 years. Reportedly, farmer Eddie Wise had been working on his loan with Farm Service Agency (FSA) until Farm Services Agent Paula F. Nicholls and Mike Huskie took over his case. Not soon after, Mr. Wise’s loan increased and sky rocketed to almost $60,000 more within only a month’s span of time, thus lending to an escalated foreclosure process and, the seizure of property and an incredible number of subsequent questions and outrage from people all across the country. Mr. Wise and his wife Dorothy have suffered the height of indignity and racist degradation. This process is highly problematic and we see this seizure as a major threat to family farms nationwide. Not only did the Federal Marshals render Eddie and Dorothy immediately homeless and landless, they did not allow them to take any of their belongings except the clothes on their backs. They also insisted on “securing” every firearm legally owned by Mr. Wise. Mr. Wise was in fear of his life and the life of his wife. “I believe if I had shown one ounce of resistance, the Federal Marshals would have killed me. I actually believe that’s what they came to do” said Mr. Wise, his eyes moist with tears. Saving their land has been a long and exhaustive process for the Wise family. The ugliness of the one dimensional unfairness, racial characterization, and mental traps set for this family and thousands of other Black farmers by USDA, and a corrupt legal system, defy reason and logic. Black farmers are a racial minority and do not represent a large political power block, therefore they are unfairly treated like terrorized slave captives in their own country, a country they were vital in building. MORE BACKGROUND ON FARMER EDDIE WISE: 1. In 1993 the Wises applied for a loan to purchase a 106-acre hog farm. Wise said that at first the FmHA (now FSA) County Loan Officer didn’t let him know that the farm had been “earmarked for minority farmers.” Then officials tried to reappraise the farm to increase the value, but the value actually dropped. Last, a White farmer who wanted the farm paid a Black woman to apply for him. She was one of the final two applicants whose names were drawn from a hat. “We won the draw,” Wise said. Wise continued to face resistance from the county loan office, which is now demanding that he provide a production history going back five years and a production plan for the new farm. 2. Eddie and Dorothy Wise raise hogs on 106 acres near Whitakers, in east-central North Carolina. Eddie is a fourth-generation hog farmer but the first to own a farm; his father and grandfather were sharecroppers. During a 20 plus career in the military, and as an ROTC instructor at Howard and Georgetown Universities, Eddie raised hogs in his spare time. It was his dream to return home to North Carolina and farm full-time. When he retired from the Army in 1991 at the age of 48, that’s what he set out to do. Dorothy Wise grew up in Washington, D.C., but she too hoped to one day live on a farm. When she and Eddie met at Howard University in the 1980s and she discovered he was a farmer, it seemed that her wish had come true. Still, it took the Wises five years, until 1996, to secure the loans they needed to buy their farm. They were repeatedly turned down by local government loan officers who, the Wises are convinced, did not want African-American farmers to succeed. It was only through determined effort and much research and legwork that the Wises were able to receive the financial help for which they qualified. Prior to them being ordered off their property, the Wises had 250 hogs, which they raised from birth and would sell to a black-owned pork processor in the area. Eddie’s lean pork, raised without hormones or antibiotics, is sold at a premium in area supermarkets. Finding such a market niche is the only way the Wises can compete with the much-larger farms that mass-produce hogs for the large meatpacking companies. For the last 40 years American Black farmers have lived a hellish nightmare deliberately orchestrated by the USDA and its local Farmers Home Administration (FmHA – now the Farm Service Agency, FSA) offices to confiscate Black-owned land and homes. A review of the now historic Pigford v. Glickman Class Action by Black farmers will help one to understand the extremely vicious attack against black farmers and the USDA’s own Civil Rights Action Team report, (CRAT February 1997). (For details on the Black Farmers Class Action, See https://www.blackfarmercase.com/Background.aspx or http://www.dcd.uscourts.gov/pigfordmonitor/index.htm). We demand a full investigation, a halt to all land seizure and illegitimate farm sales and to return Eddie and Dorothy Wise’s farm and property to them immediately. For more information, contact email@example.com. ------------------------------- Check out BFAA on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/BFAA.org/ and here: https://www.facebook.com/groups/106046796096003 To support Farmer Eddie Wise and Dorothy Wise: www.gofundme.com/39m8623g
#StandUp4Kids NOT Billionaires23 years ago a group of determined parents filed a law suit called the Campaign for Fiscal Equity against New York state to prove that the state was discriminating against districts with mostly Black, Latino or impoverished students by not properly funding their education.10 years ago I stood on the steps of the New York State Court of Appeals with my then 10 year old and 12 year old daughters, Rayya and Zaire, awaiting the hearing that would determine CFE and the fair funding of our New York City Schools. I was so elated when the decision was made that our schools did deserve more, because it meant opportunities and dreams would no longer be denied not only for my children but all other Black and Latino students and students living in poverty. Yet here I am, 10 years later still fighting the same fight. Throughout this 10-year fight, I’ve been up in arms with fellow parents, organizers, and teachers alike. All of which, have witnessed the disparity in opportunity afforded to students because of their skin color or zip code. Education should be about accessing knowledge to expand your world but a consistent disinvestment in public school dollars on top of educational cuts limits this and unfairly stints school potential through a lack of resources. These resources could provide programs that have been proven to enhance a child’s learning environment like advanced classes, technology, longer school days, after school programs, teacher supports, and the list goes on. That’s why right now we’re challenging our legislators to #StandUp4Kids Billionaires and hedge fund managers in New York drive the overwhelming income inequity that creates a gap in educational funding. When the 1% is paying less in taxes than our school secretaries, sanitation workers, nurses and truck drivers we must stand up and say change needs to happen, NOW! With just 1% more in taxes from the 1% (those making $665,000 and over) New York State could raise over $2 billion in funding for education. But when Governor Cuomo says there is “no appetite” for raising taxes on millionaires and billionaires—what I hear is that addressing a 50% child poverty rate is not a priority for New York State. And Senate Majority Leader John Flanagan is opposing it because his Republican colleagues depend on hedge funds and billionaires to finance their re-election campaigns. We must put our children before hedge funds and political interests. The future depends on it. Sign our petition to demand Governor Cuomo, Senator Flanagan and the legislators of NY to #StandUp4Kids, NOT billionaires! While my 8 children may never get the opportunity to reap the benefits of CFE my 3 grandchildren can. It’s time for legislators to make the right choice. Together, we can protect the promise of a quality education for generations to come.
Tell Walmart: to rehire Thomas SmithHi my name is Thomas Smith. I loved my job at a Walmart in East Greenbush, NY, where I made $9 an hour putting away shopping carts and picking up trash from the parking lot. After being released from prison and facing homelessness earlier this year, I felt like I was really getting my life on track. But then last Friday, after I worked over-time to assist my managers, I was abruptly fired. The reason? I redeemed about $2 worth of empty cans and bottles left in an abandoned shopping cart just inside the store. I didn't know you couldn't take empties left behind. They were garbage. I didn't even get a chance to explain myself to the manager. I was never told that redeeming bottles wasn’t allowed and I immediately paid back the money. I worked hard at Walmart and did a good job. I ended up getting a raw deal. They just told me to turn in my badge. There’s a double standard at my store. My manager told me that a cashier in my store, who is white, was caught on camera stealing $20 from a cash register and stuffing it into her bra. She paid the money back, but she wasn’t fired. I’ve worked hard to turn my life around. And I worked hard at Walmart - I was only a few weeks away from passing my 90-day probation period. I shouldn’t have been fired for redeeming cans that were left for trash.
End School-Sanctioned Violence Against Children, Parents and CommunitiesWe wish this story was an isolated incident, but it is not. It’s one of many other stories of children who find themselves the victim of the school to prison pipeline. A system that will arrest children because they had a bad day. Children who may or may not have a disability. Children who may have lost a family member, a friend, or someone in the community. Children who may have recently become homeless, or had a parent or sibling incarcerated. Poor black and brown children are the ones who most frequently are targeted by this pipeline, thanks to the racism and classism that is a widespread part of our society. Nationwide African-American children represent 26% of juvenile arrests and 44% of youth who are detained. Taxpayers spend an estimated $70 billion on corrections and incarceration, yet over half of the children who are incarcerated are incarcerated for nonviolent offenses. This call to action demands that: Our schools treat every child, every family, and every community with dignity and respect. Our children should not be arrested or made to leave school for things that all children go through. Our teachers and paraprofessionals who educate our most vulnerable populations should not be given the lowest pay and inadequate training. The average paraprofessional salary in Louisiana was $19,970 per year in May 2014, which ranked 46th of the 50 states. By comparison, in 2012, at least 45 New Orleans charter school executives made more than $100,000 a year. Our parents should not be subjected to economic abuse and hardship, from charging $60-$80 for school uniforms, to causing parents to lose their jobs, their incomes, and their livelihoods when they are frequently called to school for minor misbehaviors.
Taking Food out of people’s mouths does not create jobs, it leaves entire communities hungry!Under the 1996 welfare law, able-bodied adults without dependents (ABAWDs) are limited to three months of Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program benefits (SNAP, formerly food stamps) in a three-year period unless they are working 20 hours a week or enrolled in a job training program for 20 hours a week. But the same law that created the time limit allows states to request a waiver for areas with high unemployment where jobs are scarce. Louisiana is eligible for a statewide waiver in 2016 given our high unemployment rate. Louisiana has added 51,000 jobs since January 2013, but at the same time the labor force grew by 102,000 job seekers. Louisiana now has a higher unemployment rate than the nation. Unfortunately, Governor Jindal has chosen not to apply for a statewide waiver. Their position is that a wavier conflicts with a policy of promoting "self-sufficiency." Of course, we all agree that a job paying a living wage is preferable to public assistance. But we also are aware of the reality that jobs--much less good-paying jobs--are scarce in our state. Rates of food insecurity in Louisiana remain high. Surveys averaged over three years show 17.6 percent of Louisianans lacked food security over the 2012-2014 period, a huge increase from the 11.8 percent who were food insecure a decade ago and higher than the 14.1 percent in 2009-2011. Nationally, the rate is 14.3 percent. Denying SNAP to the unemployed will do nothing to increase the rate of job creation, but will increase food hardship and the burden on local food banks already struggling to serve the hungry. People who will be cut off from food assistance because of this harsh rule are some of the poorest people in the state who are generally not eligible for any other type of assistance. Now, it will be harder for them to eat. Taking SNAP benefits away from unemployed workers will also create desperate situations that can increase the crime rate in the state of Louisiana. If DCFS refuses to apply for a waiver targeting high-need areas, the state should at least commit itself to providing a job training spot to every single person who wants one so that they can keep their SNAP benefits while building their skills. Unfortunately, given budget constraints, that isn’t likely to happen. With a lack of jobs, no training opportunities, and limited places to perform community service, thousands will be punitively cut off from basic food assistance. Please sign on to tell Jindal that you will not stand by as he makes people starve.
Protect DC's Black Communities from Police Violence: Say NO to Mayor Bowser's Crime BillBill 21-0357 will effectively criminalize entire Black neighborhoods in the District. It seeks to flood communities with police endowed with the power to conduct illegal aggressive and dangerous searches and seizures, and to incarcerate people almost at will for minor and non-violent offenses. Without the support of any data, the Mayor places the blame on returning citizens for the District’s recent spike in crime and seeks to target people on parole probation or supervised release for surveillance and broken windows policing. The Mayor does not understand the issues that affect the District’s most underserved areas. Instead of responding with knee-jerk proposals that will only increase the rates of arrests and incarceration without reducing crime, the Mayor and the DC Council should invest resources in creating jobs with living wages, support “ban the box” measures to help eliminate obstacles to employment and housing for Returning Citizens, create and protect truly affordable housing, prohibit displacement, significantly improve access to healthy and affordable food and other services that make our community safer. In Solidarity, Black Lives Matter DMV and Stop Police Terror Project #TakeBackOurStreetsDC
Make #BlackWorkersMatter: End the Exclusion of Black Workers from New Orleans Reconstruction"I can count on one hand the number of Black workers that work with me on Woodward construction sites" -Woodward employee Woodward Design+Build who has been in New Orleans since the 1920's did not think you could employ 40% local workers in the 313 Carondelet Project while the Lemoine Company who has been locally based in New Orleans since 2011 reportedly employed 80% local workers on the construction of the New Orleans East Hospital. Since Katrina New Orleans has been one of the largest construction sites in the country, meanwhile the exclusion of Black workers from the reconstruction has led to a massive Black jobs crisis- 52% of Black men are out of work, New Orleans has the second highest rate of income inequality in the country, 50.5% of Black children live in poverty and Black families make less than half the income of white families (Black families yearly median income in New Orleans is only $27,812) Woodward Design+Build has built countless projects in Post Katrina New Orleans and is going to be breaking ground this year and next on several more their continued exclusion of Black workers from their construction sites will further exacerbate the Black jobs crisis in New Orleans and we must act now to hold them and other major contractors accountable to make #BlackWorkersMatter in New Orleans. Local Black workers who are members of Stand with Dignity and our allies have been fighting to make #BlackWorkersMatter in New Orleans and we are winning- the City just passed a living wage ordinance for $10.55 per hour, and the Council will be considering a local hire ordinance on October 1st. These actions by our city government will go a long way but we have to hold accountable the companies who have gotten us to this point in the first place. Sign on Now to hold contractors accountable to make #BlackWorkersMatter in New Orleans- starting with Woodward Design+Build
Take Down ALL Symbols of White Supremacy in New OrleansSince 2015, we've organized to have four statues removed in New Orleans. And in May of this year, Mayor Mitch Landrieu delivered a powerful speech that supported the notion that there space for reverence of the Confederacy in New Orleans. We must continue organizing until all property dedicated to people who fought to keep slavery is renamed and repurposed. Two weeks ago, white supremacists swarmed the streets in Charlottesville armed with lit torches and blunt objects to terrorize Black people. This modern-day lynching mob crowded around a Confederate statue, and in honor of the false idol, killed a peaceful protester and critically wounded dozens more. There is no doubt that white supremacists use these statues to validate their racism and violence. Now more than ever, we have to remove all Confederate symbols and emblems to white supremacy. Our local government has a responsibility to protect its Black communities from the kind of terrorism and bloodshed that rocked Charlottesville. The New Orleans family is defined by the diverse, inclusive nature of its culture in spaces both public and private. Public spaces are for everyone and should not be used to promote the abhorrent views of the white ruling class to uphold symbols of Black oppression. Not only that but our tax dollars should no longer be used to maintain these structures. We walk to the river, to work, to school, to visit a friend, and look up into the faces of men who traded human beings as property and fought to protect the ability to do so. There is no basis to support the continued littering of our public squares and buildings with monuments, street names and public schools named after white supremacists. These memorials only serve as constant reminders of the past and present domination of black people by the rich white ruling class. They are insulting to anyone with a sense of history and who supports progress and democracy. These symbols also represent present day reality where most decisions and government policy are determined by those who accept white supremacist notions that Black people and all non-white people are less and deserve less than white people. Some people believe that the struggle to remove white supremacist symbols is a deflection from the more meaningful struggle to end present day discrimination. They couldn’t be further from the truth. These monuments and signs are so much more than symbols of bygone days. They are active parts of an abusive system in which intentionally unequal distribution of power and resources goes unchecked. The white supremacist ideas represented by these symbols permeate USA society and result in actual discrimination and murder. That is why policemen with white supremacist conceptions of young Black people can murder them so easily. This is why the so-called criminal justice system can practice mass incarceration of Black people with the approval of most white people. This is why we have over 50% unemployment for Black men in New Orleans and there is no editorial outcry by the white ruling class press. If our New Orleans family is to have a chance at real racial reconciliation, we must remove all obvious symbols of white supremacy to show our collective will to address entrenched systemic oppression, which is wreaking havoc in the minds, homes, and neighborhoods of our families citywide. Now is our opportunity to be proactive. All over the USA, especially in the South, progressive Black people and their allies are leading struggles to rid the South of the symbols of treason, domestic terrorism and racist oppression. State governments in South Carolina and Alabama have removed the Rebel Flag. The Memphis city council has voted to remove the statue and the body of confederate General and founder of the KKK, Nathan Bedford Forrest. The Georgia NAACP has called for the removal of the Stone Mountain memorial to the confederacy.
Return Mary Watkines -- Walmart Worker Fired for Speaking OutMy name is Mary Watkines and I'm a leader and founding member of OUR Walmart in Washington state. Over the last month over 30 new associates have joined from stores in Federal Way, Renton, and Auburn. I have spent this time advocating for increased minimum wage in WA state, drawing strength from my faith in God and the power of workers to make change. I work hard every day in my store and did my best to model dignity in the workplace. I returned to work on April 15th, after being disciplined for wearing an OUR Walmart pin, alongside local community members in prayer. I also presented a resolution related to executive pay at the Walmart Shareholder meeting in Bentonville in June, bringing attention to the income inequality that we as Walmart workers experience firsthand. However, two weeks ago, I was fired. As an organizer and mentor to many associates in my store and beyond, it is clear I am an ongoing target of management. This time, I was pulled in from my break by my store manager and asset protection and given termination papers including a money order paying me up to the minute I stepped off the floor. My store manager said that the directive to fire me had come from above. I believe that Walmart, the largest employer of African-Americans in the country, has the opportunity to make a difference in our lives, but instead is choosing to retaliate against people like me who speak out. This is not the first time Walmart has tried to fire me unjustly, but I need your help to get re-hired, again. I have already spoken with my store manager, district manager and a member of HR from Walmart's Regional office but now I need your help.
Remove Robert E. Lee Statue and name from Oak Lawn Park, and Dallas SchoolsReturn Dallas' Public art to the citizens of Dallas reflective of the diversity of Texas Culture and Dallas Contemporary Culture. The statue, the park name (Lee Park), and the naming of a children's school, Robert E. Lee Elementary, insults the dignity and intelligence of 21st century Dallasites. The statue is in bad taste, given that Lee was not Texan, and furthermore a traitor to the United States of America. The statue is representative of white supremacy, and represents a heritage of hatred and the belief that even in defeat, Lee and the Confederacy held noble and just beliefs. The time has come to take Lee and all Confederate "heroes" off their pedestals.
Release data about the McKinney Police Department's engagement of Black youthThe videos from McKinney show Black youth clearly being targeted by police while white youth are left alone. We deserve to know from the City of McKinney if this is a longstanding police policy. This is important because this incident is one in a long line of incidents that continue to demonstrate that Black youth are routinely dehumanized in our society. Implicit bias and perceptions of Black youth directly impact they way that they are engaged. Because these youth were seen to not belong in the area, the officers did even attempt to engage them as residents or even guests but rather as intruders. This is evidenced by the fact that the teenager who filmed the incident was white and therefore was not engaged by the police at all - despite capturing the entire event on camera. We have seen in past, how these interactions can quickly turn deadly. The community can not begin to heal until these issues are exposed and confronted in a honest and transparent fashion.
Take.A.Stand.Have.A.Voice.The videos from McKinney show Black youth clearly being targeted by police while white youth are left alone. We deserve to know from the City of McKinney if this is a longstanding police policy. This is important because this incident is one in a long line of incidents that continue to demonstrate that Black youth are routinely dehumanized in our society. Implicit bias and perceptions of Black youth directly impact they way that they are engaged. Because these youth were seen to not belong in the area, the officers did even attempt to engage them as residents or even guests but rather as intruders. This is evidenced by the fact that the teenager who filmed the incident was white and therefor was not engaged by the police at all - despite capturing the entire event on camera. We have seen in past, how these interactions can quickly turn deadly. The community can not begin to heal until these issues are exposed and confronted in a honest and transparent fashion.